Our first match - 5 years ago!

Reach Out recently celebrated 5 years since it’s first match during our pilot project in North Herts and Stevenage back in 2019! We have been on an incredible journey since then.

 
Our first client was *Dorothy. She was 87 and had recently had hip replacement surgery. She didn’t have any local family and needed some help with collecting some shopping whilst she recovered. She had also recently been diagnosed with diabetes and was worried that she wasn’t eating the right things to manage her condition.

 
Dorothy was a very determined lady and really wanted to stay independent, but was also feeling very vulnerable as she had never been in this type of situation before where she needed to ask for help. Her GP had advised her to do as much research as she could into how to manage her diabetes with her diet.

 
We matched her with an incredible volunteer, *Caroline, who visited Dorothy once a week. Together, they researched healthy meal options on Caroline’s smart phone and planned the weekly shopping list together. Caroline would collect the shopping from the local supermarket, whilst Dorothy would have the kettle on ready for a cuppa and a chat when she got back with the shopping.

 
The match only lasted a few weeks, but the difference it made to Dorothy was remarkable. She said that Caroline was a lovely lady and had helped her so much. As she adjusted to her new hip, she was able to move a little more each day as her pain decreased and her confidence improved.

 
Dorothy had been very upset with her diabetes diagnosis, but she said that Caroline’s support had made a huge difference in helping her to plan her meals and monitor her weight and sugar intake. When she felt well enough, Caroline took her to the supermarket in her car and they were able to make healthy choices and selections together so that Dorothy knew what to look out for on the food labels.

 
I will never forget the little burst of happiness I felt when I was driving through the town a couple of months later and saw Dorothy walking down the street on her own with a bag of shopping. She wasn’t using any mobility aids, and you would never have known she had recently had surgery as she was completely steady and walking at a pretty speedy pace.

 
It was only then that I realised just how much of an impact a volunteer can have on a person's wellbeing. Those few weeks and months after a hospital stay can be really daunting and without support, a person can become more isolated and lose their confidence regardless of How they're recovering physically. We just provide an extra layer of support and friendship until a person feels ready to get back to normal living.

 
Our volunteer Caroline was wonderful. When Dorothy was anxious about her diabetes diagnosis, Caroline spent time at home researching information for Dorothy so that they could both get the most out of their time together. She said that for the sake of a quick half an hour here and there on the Diabetes UK website, she was able to share lots of information and resources with Dorothy that she never would have seen otherwise.

 
5 years later, we have now helped 1,452 older people in Hertfordshire! I am incredibly grateful every single day to be part of such a wonderful project! Those little bursts of happiness never seem to stop. We get them every time our volunteers and clients share stories and photos of their time together.

Vicky Hudson
Reach Out Project Manager


*names have been changed to protect confidentiality

If you live in North Herts or Stevenage call us on 07780 304068

 

If you live in East Herts or Broxbourne call us on 07435 549130

 

If you live in Welwyn & Hatfield, St Albans or Hertsmere call us on 07917 978728

If you live in Watford, Three Rivers or Dacorum call us on  07780 313651

For General Enquiries you can contact our main office on 01462 689403